Rookie Website Mistakes, Part 1: Slow Loading Speed

August 10th, 2017 by Matthew Bains

74 percent of customers will leave a website if it fails to load within 5 seconds. And the numbers don’t look too great even if your site is noticeably faster—according to Google engineers, anything slower than the blink of an eye, 400 milliseconds, can cause users to leave a page and search elsewhere. Google released their Caffeine update in 2010, placing importance on site speed for search ranking factors. With such a demand on site performance, it’s more important than ever that business owners and their partners understand not only why page speed is important but also what affects it and how to remedy a sluggish site.

Snail crossing an asphalt road - Search Influence

Why Is Speed Important for Search Factors?

Overall site speed is based on a sample of different pages from the site. “Page speed” can be broken down either as “time to first byte” or “page load time.” The first of these, the time it takes for a browser to receive the first byte of information from the server, has been shown to correlate to search rankings. “Page load time” more noticeably affects the user experience, but it can also impact SEO.

All of that hard work you’ve put into developing and designing your new site, implementing beautiful images, creating an intuitive navigation, and writing and implementing pages of content for users to scour—it can all mean nothing if your pages take longer to load than what has come to be expected. The longer someone waits for a page to load, the sooner he or she begins to look for other avenues to find a product, purchase a ticket, or make a reservation. And with the magnitude of resources available today, it’s only a matter of time until they leave your slow-loading site (bounce) and seek their information elsewhere via a new search.

The average user doesn’t have time for your slow page to load, and rightly so. We shouldn’t be subjecting potential customers to a dull experience. We wait in traffic. We wait on elevators. We wait on our bread in the toaster. But when it comes to our web experience, we aren’t stuck in the ‘90s with pages that can’t possibly load any faster than 10 seconds. There are tools and practices at our fingerprints that can make your flashy new website lightning fast and more easily crawlable by search engines.

Open exposure capture of cars driving on a road at night - Search Influence

Page Performance Impacts User Experience

Now, a slow loading page isn’t the be-all-end-all factor for search rankings. In fact, there are over 200 factors that go into search rankings. However, it can impact conversions and sales due to a poor user experience.

When’s the last time you sat and waited for a page to load? How long until you gave up and tried a competitor that sells the same type of product or service? It’s worth repeating that users expect speed. Whether they’re searching on desktop or mobile (and most have been on mobile for close to two years), an inefficient website can frustrate users and result in lost business. So, what are some easy ways to make the user experience more friendly and eliminate high bounce rates that result from slow load times? Our developers can help diagnose more specific problems, but here are a few tips to get started:

  • Eliminate multiple pop-ups or spammy widgets used for sales on your site
  • Create smart site navigation to give users a clear path to a purchase
  • Implement direct calls to action with forms or buttons throughout your site

There are other steps that can be made on the backend of your site that can help with load time, like limiting redirects, organizing your HTML, and compressing your images, but the above-mentioned tips are a step in right direction toward enhancing the way users will interact with your site. For a more comprehensive view of how you’re performing, reach out to us for a free digital marketing analysis.

Co-workers sitting around a wooden table with electronic devices in hand - Search Influence

Regain Potential Lost Conversions and Sales

While load time might not be the biggest contributing factor to a poor search ranking, it can certainly contribute to a lower conversion rate. According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, 79 percent of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again, and around 44 percent of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.

In the same survey, they found that a 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversions. To put that in a sales perspective, if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost $2.5 million in lost sales every year. That’s a huge number for a 1-second delay. To give another example of a direct ROI, for every 1 second of speed improvement to Amazon’s website, their conversion rate went up 2 percent.

For your landing pages to convert visitors into customers, you need to give them an enjoyable experience. The nice thing about doing technical work to decrease page load time is that it simultaneously benefits your bottom line. A faster, cleaner site means a higher likelihood that visitors will stay, peruse your content, fill out a form, and eventually convert into a customer.

A Faster Site Helps You Serve Your Customers Better

While there are many mistakes that rookies make when building a website, starting a marketing campaign, and attempting to grow their brand, not recognizing key SEO factors that slow down their pages’ load times is one of the more frequent culprits. The good news? Our professionals know the right tactics to speed up your site. To learn more about what other mistakes can hinder your SEO, download our white paper.

Stay tuned for our next entry in our blog series: Rookie Mistakes, Part 2: Not Allowing Your Site to Be Found by Search Engines.

Images:

Snail

Highway Lights